At an international conference on Sept. 26, Academia Sinica academician Chou Chang-hung said that with the onset of global warming, wild plant species at average to high altitudes have been showing a tendency to migrate to higher altitudes, adding that if these species continue to migrate they will eventually reach a point where there is nowhere to grow. Chou says that six plant species indigenous to Taiwan, including Yushan’s Hypericum nagasawai, will soon face extinction, and says that the preservation of genetic resources brooks no delay.
The Taiwan Endemic Species Research Institute (TESRI) under the Council of Agriculture held the International Conference on the Collection and Preservation of Plant Genetic Resources on Sept. 26, with Peter H. Raven, a former science consultant for the Clinton administration and longtime director of the Missouri Botanical Garden, around a dozen other international experts from South Africa, England, Germany and China, as well as Academia Sinica’s Chou, Lee Chia-wei, a professor in National Ching Hua University’s Department of Life Sciences, and Chiu Chi-jung and Chung Kuo-fang, both professors in National Taiwan University’s School of Forestry and Resource Conservation, presenting papers at the conference.
Chou says research shows that from 1906 to 2006 plant life at average to high altitudes in the Hehuanshan area gradually migrated to higher altitudes due to global warming, averaging 3.6m per year. If this migration trend is not slowed down, there will eventually be no more land available for the plants to grow, meaning that at least six of Taiwan’s native plant species — Anaphalis morrisonicola, Artemisia morrisonensis, Swertia randaiensis, Hypericum nagasawai, Angelica morrisonicola, and Cirsium arisanensis — potentially face extinction.
TESRI director Tang Hsiao-yu says that they are currently in the process of planning facilities for the preservation of plant species in high-altitude mountain areas. Still at the preliminary phase of planning, they have decided to create a preservation area at Hehuanshan and will be working to collect and preserve 500 or so of the plant genetic resources currently growing at high altitudes there. With enough manpower and funding, the institute hopes to expand its collection and preservation endeavors to Southeast Asia in the future, potentially benefiting their work by holding exchanges with international experts and learning from the experiences of others, Tang says.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)